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Top 5 point guard options for the Phoenix Suns to replace Chris Paul

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Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

After three seasons with the Phoenix Suns that included an NBA Finals appearance, Chris Paul has been waived by the team, according to a report from Chris Haynes of Bleacher Report on Wednesday. This decision will mark the official start of his free agency this offseason at the age of 38.

Paul had career-low averages of 13.9 points, 8.9 assists, and 4.3 rebounds during the regular season. He had two years left on his four-year, $120 million deal. New Suns owner Matt Ishiba has wasted little time putting his imprint on the team. After adding Kevin Durant at the trade deadline, Paul managed to guide the Suns to the Western Conference semifinals for the third consecutive year before losing to the Denver Nuggets in six games.

Following their playoff exit, the Suns fired head coach Monty Williams and replaced him with former Los Angeles Lakers coach Frank Vogel.

With the future hall-of-famer free to join any team, the Suns now have huge shoes to fill at point guard. They must find the right piece to complement Durant and Devin Booker in the next stage of their championship contention. We’ve pinpointed the five best options for them to consider to remain competitive.

Fred VanVleet, Toronto Raptors

fred vanvleet
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The prime option to replace Paul is VanVleet, who knows what it takes to win a championship, having done so with the Raptors in 2019. VanVleet has the opposite mentality as Paul. As a shoot-first guard, VanVleet brings a ferocious mindset to the point of attack. As a free agent, VanVleet could be had by Phoenix without sacrificing more depth than they gave up in the Kevin Durant trade.

VanVleet could fetch between $25 and $30 million per year. He would complement the Suns’ potent wings, Durant and Devin Booker as a fearless driver and above-average three-point shooter. There’s a chance for a discount, as VanVleet had a terrible shooting performance this season, managing just 39% from the field and 34% on 3’s. But as someone who has performed in huge playoff moments, he should be the top priority for the Suns.

Russell Westbrook, Los Angeles Clippers

russell westbrook
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Westbrook and Durant reuniting in Phoenix would be one of the NBA’s feel-good stories. The two would have a chance to finish what they started in Oklahoma City with the Thunder in the early 2010s. The Suns’ perimeter shooting would create space for Westbrook’s relentless driving ability.

While Westbrook’s production and athleticism have slipped since his Thunder days, he showed he can still elevate his game after joining the Los Angeles Clippers as a buyout candidate at the deadline. The Suns will need a vocal leader after moving on from Paul. Westbrook has the right combination of moxie and bravado to fill that role.

The biggest hiccup to Westbrook joining the Suns is new head coach Frank Vogel might not want to deal with him again after the two failed to make it work when they were both with the Lakers.

Kyrie Irving, Dallas Mavericks

kyrie irving
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Irving and Durant failed to make it work in Brooklyn. When the two demanded trades this season, they ended the Nets’ contention plans and tore apart the hopes the franchise had when the two signed with the team in 2019. It’s unclear how much animosity or tension remains between the two, but Irving would be a massive upgrade over Paul at the point.

Irving averaged 27 points, 5 assists, and 5 rebounds during the regular season with the Nets and Mavericks, where he was traded at the deadline. Irving is a free agent who can choose his next team. While he has signaled a potential return to the Mavs after seemingly flirting with the Los Angeles Lakers, the Suns would give him the best chance at rewriting his career and winning another championship.

D’Angelo Russell, Los Angeles Lakers

d'angelo russell
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It feels like Russell has outworn his welcome at every stop he’s been at. He was traded to the Lakers at the deadline as the team restructured around LeBron James and Anthony Davis to build a playoff team. But once the postseason arrived, Russell lost his starting spot and averaged just 13.3 points on 42% field goal shooting. Not even playing next to James and Davis could help him elevate his game.

Maybe playing next to a different All-Star duo in Booker and Durant would be different. Russell isn’t a great shooter from the perimeter, shooting just 31% in this year’s playoffs. But the Suns have better shooting than the Lakers and could hide his inefficiencies from three while giving him clearer driving lanes as a penetrator.

Seth Curry, Brooklyn Nets

seth curry
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Curry has never been a reliable starting point guard, but when you have Durant and Booker, plus Deandre Ayton at center, you can live with having an imperfect player at the point. Just like VanVleet, there’s a chance the Suns could get Curry on a discount, as he underperformed in this season’s playoffs. But Curry has been a lethal three-point shooter his entire career and would bring a playoff-tested guard to pair with Durant and Booker.

Furthermore, he has built-in chemistry with Durant, who he played with together with the Nets. Targeting Curry would allow the Suns to use the rest of their available cap via trades and free agency to upgrade their bench, another need of concern after the Durant trade.

Lee Escobedo covers the NBA for Sportsnaut. You can follow him on Twitter at @_leeescobedo

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